Blood Enemy (The Long War for England – book 2) by Martin Lake

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An uneasy peace exists between Alfred and the Danish warlord, Guthrum, but there are other Danes with designs on Wessex.  In the continuation of Alfred’s quest to rule England; all of it, the author has wrought a tale of tested loyalties, difficult loves and the emotional stability of a warrior caught in a frenzied blood lust.  The twins, Ulf and Inga are now part of Alfred’s retinue and this story finds them learning who and what they are.  As in the other works by Martin Lake, I was drawn into the mindsets of the protagonists, in this case English and Dane, as each group struggles to maintain and increase their hold on English soil.  The history between Saxons and Danes is long and bloody, making any semblance of peace, compromise or acceptance virtually non-existent especially since the divisions are multiplied by religious fervor – reminds me of today actually.  The author superbly brings those challenges to the fore and has produced another delightful page turning journey into the making of England.  4.3 stars

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Land of Blood and Water by Martin Lake

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I was asked by the author to read his latest work, a task I have performed for him a few times now. I have not regretted it.  Land of Blood and Water is the story of Alfred the Great and his struggle against, and eventual victory over, the Danish Chieftain, Guthrum.  It is also the tale of a peasant family who find themselves intricately involved in the conflict by the services they render unto their King.  The author does a fine job of bringing to life what it would have been like for a poor family living on what was essentially an island in a marsh to be suddenly confronted with the horror and the thrill to be set upon by the King of Wessex as he seeks a place to recoup after a disastrous defeat.  The changes wrought in the lives of Brand and his family are many and the resentment of some of them is palpable throughout the book.  However, it is not only the lowborn who experience change and a range of emotions as Alfred, too, undergoes many conflicting feelings.  Indeed, the emotional content of the book is one of the highlights of the narrative.  The characters are well written, the action flows seamlessly and the reader is left with a feeling as if they had been there.  4 stars